Think back a few weeks ago to the 4th of July. Did you spend any time outdoors that day? If so, I’m guessing you were warm. Maybe hot. Perhaps sizzling.
Why do I say that? Because scientists are telling us that July 4th was globally one of the hottest days in about 125,000 years.
At the minimum, it was Earth’s hottest day since at least 1979. Thanks to the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere and the return of the El Niño weather pattern.
According to the U.S. National Centers for Environmental Prediction, the average temperature around the world on July 4 was 62.92 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you’re thinking, “Hey, that’s pretty comfortable,” keep in mind that was the average for the entire globe. Including the North and South poles, where temps were right around minus 60 degrees.
It’s Hot All Over
Of course, July 4 was just one day this summer. As I’m sure you’ve seen often on the news lately, temperatures have been soaring in many parts of the country. And remaining high for weeks on end.
More than 100 million Americans have been exposed to dangerous heat on a regular basis over the last few weeks. Those in Phoenix, Arizona, for example, have been sweltering for weeks. Recently they hit the 110+ degree mark for the 15th consecutive day, with no relief in sight.
Dallas, Texas and Roswell, New Mexico were both over 100 degrees on a daily basis, and it reached 115 degrees in Las Vegas, Nevada. In aptly-named Death Valley, California, it was 127 degrees.
China was also in the middle of a blazing heat wave, with Beijing hitting a record 104 degrees. The temperature reached 122 degrees in northern Africa, and it was even warmer than usual in the Antarctic.
Studying Tree Rings & Ice Cores
So, how did scientists come up with that “125,000 years” figure? Even if humans were around that long ago, I’m pretty sure they did not own weather instruments.
And global temperature records based on weather instruments only go back as far as the mid-19th century.
To determine weather patterns for hundreds and thousands of years prior to that, scientists base their estimates on tree rings and ice cores. So, it’s hardly an exact science, but they believe they can get a grip on it.
Paulo Ceppi is a climate scientist at the Grantham Institute in London, England. He says tree rings and ice cores “tell us that it hasn’t been this warm since at least 125,000 years ago, which was the previous interglacial (period).”
Temps Keep Creeping Upward
And the worst news is, according to weather scientists, it’s just going to keep getting hotter. Myles Allen is a professor of geosystem science at Oxford University.
He says that the world’s temperature has been rising at 0.25 degrees Celsius per decade. Doesn’t sound like much, but over time it adds up. Earth’s temperatures are currently about 2.25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they were prior to industrialization.
The main culprit right now is the El Niño weather pattern, which recently returned for the first time since February-August 2019. That pattern was rather short and weak, but it can last as long as two years or more before La Niña reappears.
The El Niño pattern generally means oceans are releasing heat into the atmosphere, where that heat gets trapped.
June Established World Heat Record
As a result, the month of June was the hottest ever recorded globally. And for the first half of the year, 2023 is currently the third warmest year on record. The year 2016 currently holds that dubious record.
All the numbers are not yet in for July, but it might have approached the same type of record. Of course, August is always a very hot month, and September has been getting warmer in many parts of the world in recent years.
If you’ve been dipping your toes into the Atlantic Ocean this summer, you might have noticed it’s warmer than usual. The concern is that it’s much warmer than normal.
In the North Atlantic, temps are about 9 degrees higher than average. Which marks the highest they’ve been for more than 170 years.
Entering ‘Uncharted Territory’
Carlo Buontempo is director of Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. He said, “We have never seen anything like this before. We are in uncharted territory.
In addition to heat, El Niño is known for producing surges of moisture in the form of storms that can cause flooding. But elsewhere, droughts and fires can be expected.
We can anticipate drought and extreme heart in the Southwest for the rest of the summer. As well as dry conditions and wildfires in the West and Northwest.
Of course, extreme heat means more stress on our already vulnerable electrical grids. And that means both planned and unplanned power outages.
So please take care of yourselves. Do what it takes to keep yourself and your family cool.